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New Report Shows Growing Gap Between Rent And Wages In Utah

Photo of balconies on a red brick apartment building
Jason Finn via iStock
A recent report shows most Utah workers can't afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment. Housing advocates worry the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem.

Utah renters would need to make almost $20 an hour to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment or home. But the average renter in the state makes about $5 less than that.

That’s according to a recent report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Utah Housing Coalition. The analysis looks at the gap between wages and the cost of rent throughout the country. 

The coronavirus pandemic has added another layer to the problem. Although many people have experienced a loss of income, Michelle Flynn, the executive director at The Road Home, said the cost of rent hasn’t gone down.

“This is unusual in an economic downturn that we haven’t seen a loosening of the rental market,” Flynn said, “and we are feeling that impact.”

Utah’s eviction moratorium ended about two months ago. Tara Rollins, executive director of the Utah Housing Coalition, said most people have been able to stay in their homes due to support from the federal CARES Act.

But as those programs end, Rollins is planning for the worst.

“Once the [federal] moratorium ends, once the extra funding from unemployment ends, we’re going to see an uptick when it comes to eviction,” she said.

Flynn suggested thinking about housing as a public health tool during the pandemic.

“People that don’t have health insurance, who are living unstably and from place to place and homeless shelters and out on the streets, who don’t have access to health care, are much more at risk,” she said.

The federal eviction freeze and additional $600 in unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of July.

Emily Means covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Means13

Update 4:53 p.m. MDT 7/15/2020: This story's headline was updated to clarify information about Utah workers' ability to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

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